Spinach-pesto pasta salad with fresh, sweet corn and cherry tomatoes

A pesto sauce that pops with flavor and nutrients! Nothing spells spring and summer like tender, fresh, sweet corn, served straight off of the cob. Shallots, garlic and walnuts sautéed in olive oil, and then blended into the pesto sauce, add an unexpected, and delicious variation to the traditional version, making it burst with flavor. The fresh corn adds a delightful crunch that will have your guests drooling for more. What’s more, this recipe also packs a hefty nutrient punch with the antioxidant power of spinach, omega -3 fatty acids from walnuts, Vitamin C from tomatoes and a hefty dose of fiber from the whole wheat pasta. Great way to sneak in the spinach for fussy kids (and a few grown ups)! So go ahead, dig in and enjoy!

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Freshly grated parmesan and freshly squeezed lemon juice makes this "from-scratch" pesto sauce pop! © Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Freshly grated parmesan and freshly squeezed lemon juice makes this “from-scratch” pesto sauce pop! © Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Servings: 8, 1 cup servings of pasta salad

Pesto sauce: Yield : 1 cup (This is more than enough for this recipe and you may have some left over)

Ingredients: 

  • 3.5- 4 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves + a couple of extra leaves for garnish
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or per taste
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups dry pasta (penne or rotini spirals)
  • 2 ears corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
  • 3/4 cup yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved

Method: 

  1. In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, saute the garlic in 1 tbsp of the olive oil until a mild, golden brown. Be careful to ensure that the garlic does not burn, and adjust the heat accordingly.
  2. Add shallots to the garlic in the pan, stirring for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Stir the chopped walnuts until coated with the onion, garlic mixture, remove from the stove top and set aside.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, making sure to add 1/2 tsp of salt or per taste, to the boiling  water. Drain and keep covered on a warm platter or serving dish.
  5. In a food processor, add the spinach leaves, basil, the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and pulse until mixture begins to come together forming a paste.
  6. At this point, add the onion-garlic and pecan mixture from step 3, and blend on high-speed until completely incorporated into pesto sauce in the food processor. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired.

    image

    Use a food processor to pulse all ingredients to a smooth paste as shown. © Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  7. Steam corn on the cob until tender, about 12 minutes or so. Using a small, sharp knife, remove corn kernels.

    © Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

    Use a sharp knife to remove the corn from the corn on the cob. © Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  8. Add corn, and chopped tomatoes to warm pasta .
  9. Add prepared pesto to the pasta-corn-tomato mixture and toss to coat all ingredients evenly.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Registered Dietitian’s tip: 

When it comes to pesto, you would be hard pressed to find one that is nutritionally  superior to a spinach-based pesto sauce.

Spinach can pack a hefty punch owing to it’s impressive nutritional profile which includes the powerful antioxidants, Vitamins A, and C as well as the key mineral, iron. In addition, like most leafy greens, spinach is a potent source of Vitamin K, the B vitamin folate (think “foliage”), and the minerals potassium and magnesium. A good source of fiber, spinach offers all of these wonderful nutrients in a very low-calorie package.

Combating oxidative damage: Spinach has important nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin that may possibly have a protective effect against age related macular degeneration by acting as antioxidants that quench free radicals (single, highly reactive oxygen molecules), that may damage the eye as a part of the aging process.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, May 2016, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

Advertisements

About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Get cooking, Side dishes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Spinach-pesto pasta salad with fresh, sweet corn and cherry tomatoes

  1. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for another yummy recipe Sangeeta. I will be making this, although ‘sans’ corn. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great, good to hear from you, Debbie. Let me know how it turns out. You may need to adjust the salt and lemon juice per your taste. Enjoy:))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye says:

    Thanks as always Sangeeta. 🙂

    Like

  4. RMW says:

    I see locally grown (non-GMO) corn is beginning to be available at the farmers market again… looking forward to buying some next week.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, like soybeans, at least 90% of the corn crop is genetically modified. Purchasing organic corn is one way to get around this. Thank you as always for the feedback:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. your pictures make me hungry 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you; that’s a lovely compliment:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Now this one Sangeeta I have saved in my book marks.. Love the look of this, and I have ALL of the ingredients to make this.. Our own sweetcorn we froze last year which we are still using up.. 🙂 Love it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Home grown frozen sweet corn sounds divine!. Thank you so much for the kind feedback, Sue! You may have to season to taste for salt/pepper per taste. Let me know how it turns out! Enjoy:).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I will, I intent to make it for this evenings meal. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. eliza rudolf says:

    Yummy…🍲🍛🍜🍤🍗🍖🍕🍝🍟🍔🍳

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Eliza:))! Have a great week!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s